Are You Normalizing Machismo in Your Everyday Life?

woman thinking
Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash

In so many ways, hypermasculinity is still overtly present in today’s world. Some aspects of life for women have incrementally changed for the better and many men are actively making an effort to unlearn machista behaviors. But machista attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors have been normalized for so long that both men and women might not even realize they are perpetuating or enabling harmful behaviors.

This happens especially in the Latino community, where machista comments or behaviors are often brushed off in the name of “culture” or tradition, but just because something has been normalized in culture doesn’t mean that we can’t actively work to change the way things are.

Here are the top signs you’re harboring conscious or unconscious machista beliefs that apply to the entire gender spectrum:

You think women and people capable of pregnancy are the only ones responsible for avoiding pregnancy

When an unplanned pregnancy does happen, many still default to blaming the woman for not “taking care of herself.” So if this thought has ever come to you after finding out someone unintentionally became pregnant, think to yourself, why would your mind immediately jump to ascribing responsibility to the pregnant person when it’s two people who share the responsibility?

With so many methods of effective birth control available for all parties, there’s plenty of blame to go around. But better yet, skip the blame and show some empathy. Your energy is better spent extending support for whatever may come next.

You think women shouldn’t curse, be too loud, direct, or basically engage in any behavior that is typically associated with masculinity

Not only does enforce gender roles but is also a big part of another social concept known as “marianismo” which refers to the idea that the female gender is one-dimensional and assigned specific characteristics attributed to femininity.

Both men and women can be brainwashed into believing that women are supposed to be “pure” and always striving towards some non-sensical and unrealistic standard of perfection, but in marianismo, we often see this being carried out by women who then perpetuate this harmful belief in their own children.

You think women are not “respecting” themselves based on the clothes that they choose to wear

By now, we should all know very well that no matter what someone is wearing, they deserve respect because they are human beings, period. And we certainly know that what someone is wearing has nothing to do with the behavior others take or don’t take because of it.

Many still perpetuate the idea that showing skin is immoral or that men won’t be able to control themselves. Not only is this abhorrently untrue, but it also perpetuates victim blaming. Women can wear whatever they want and show as much as they want, getting unwanted stares or comments is NEVER their fault; it is the person who lacks basic human decency, respect, and self-control.

You think it’s wrong for women to have an active sexual life

Women are still very much shamed for having multiple sexual partners, which is the same behavior that men have been praised for since the dawn of time. On top of that, women are shamed from being vocal about their sex lives; again, a concept rooted in both machismo and marianismo, because the reason for it, is that women have a duty to be “pure” or “modest.”

But an active sex life is part of most human lives, and how a person decides to express it is their decision and their decision only. We keep having to repeat this, but it seems like it cannot be said enough; nobody should get to dictate what another person does with their body.

Weaponized Incompetence

Weaponized incompetence is a behavior pattern where one partner pretends to be bad at simple tasks to get out of shared responsibilities. This one is appalling, but so common that it’s hard to be surprised when you see this happening. A mother is expected to be perfect in every way, but fathers always get away with doing the bare minimum, and worse, praised after they successfully do something that requires the bare minimum of competency.

Not too long ago, it was very common to see posts on social media where moms would leave their children with their father for some time while they had to do something else (take a shower, go to the gym, etc), and the punchline of the joke was always that the father couldn’t be left alone with the child for too long because the dad is “useless” and can't be alone without making some sort of mess. It also happens in relationships without children, when it comes to house chores.

This machista behavior, AKA “weaponized incompetence,” is done on purpose because if you’re bad at doing something, you likely won’t be asked to do it again. In a relationship, especially in one where there are children involved, this is a disgusting manipulation technique. Men acting like children that need to be taken care of in every way, instead of a partner who is there to help, is very much machismo behavior.

@pickle_plants The #mentalload on women is real #weaponizedincompetence#dobetter#BillboardNXT♬ original sound - Christina

The societal problem we have with dismantling these behaviors is that they are normalized, even encouraged sometimes. However, this doesn’t mean that people can’t change how they think. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to change a value system, but it’s absolutely possible. As we come to realize the flaws and toxic aspects of our society, we can always choose to unlearn, relearn, and educate ourselves and those around us.

a four image collage featuring queer actresses MJ Rodriguez, Aubrey Plaza, Tessa Thompson and Sara Ramirez

Amid the ongoing push towards equality and visibility for the LGBTQ+ community, the influence of public figures who identify as part of this community is undeniably crucial. They contribute to this narrative significantly, their impact transcending their professional boundaries to create safe spaces and ignite discussions that shatter stereotypes and nurture inclusivity. Today, we shine a spotlight on four prominent Latina trailblazers who are making their mark:

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson, an Afro-Panamanian actress, has earned widespread recognition for her performances in films like "Creed" and "Thor: Ragnarok". Thompson is open about her bisexuality and uses her platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ representation in the entertainment industry. Her role in "Thor: Ragnarok" is considered a landmark as Valkyrie is one of the first explicitly queer characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the explicitness of Valkyrie's bisexuality was contested in the cinematic release, Thompson has confirmed and embraced this aspect of the character. Thompson continues to champion diversity in media, raising the bar for representation in Hollywood.

Aubrey Plaza

Aubrey Plaza, of Puerto Rican and Irish descent, is widely known for her role as April Ludgate on "Parks and Recreation". Plaza publicly came out as bisexual in 2016, and she has since been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. By openly discussing her bisexuality, she has helped increase visibility and eliminate the stigma associated with non-heterosexual orientations. Additionally, her portrayal of queer characters, like in the film "Happiest Season", provides much-needed representation and adds to the authenticity of LGBTQ+ characters in media.

Sara Ramirez

Sara Ramirez, a Mexican-American actress, singer, and activist, is best known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres on "Grey's Anatomy". Ramirez, who identifies as non-binary and bisexual, has been a tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Their portrayal of Dr. Torres, one of the longest-running queer characters on television, has significantly influenced the way bisexuality is understood and depicted in popular media. Off-screen, Ramirez is heavily involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy, serving on the board of organizations like True Colors United, which works to combat homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth.

MJ Rodriguez

MJ Rodriguez, of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, has made history as a trailblazer for transgender individuals, particularly in the world of television. Rodriguez's groundbreaking role as Blanca Evangelista on "Pose" earned her critical acclaim and marked a significant milestone for trans representation on screen. Rodriguez is open about her identity as a trans woman, leveraging her platform to call attention to issues affecting the transgender community. Her achievements, both as an actress and activist, provide a beacon of hope and inspiration for transgender individuals worldwide.

Through their activism and their work in the media, these prominent figures are not only changing the conversation around LGBTQ+ rights and representation but also shaping a more inclusive and accepting future. In honoring their contributions, we also acknowledge the progress still needed and the ongoing efforts of countless others in the fight for equality and acceptance.